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Leaders nix recess with no shutdown deal in sight

Senate and House leaders said Tuesday they will cancel the Martin Luther King Jr. Day recess unless there is a sudden resolution to the 25-day partial government shutdown, which appears unlikely given a breakdown in high-level talks. 

Senate Democratic Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerBiden takes victory lap after Senate passes coronavirus relief package Lawmakers demand changes after National Guard troops at Capitol sickened from tainted food Ron Johnson forces reading of 628-page Senate coronavirus relief bill on floor MORE (N.Y.), one of the principal negotiators, told reporters Tuesday that he hasn’t spoken to President TrumpDonald TrumpBiden to sign executive order aimed at increasing voting access Albany Times Union editorial board calls for Cuomo's resignation Advocates warn restrictive voting bills could end Georgia's record turnout MORE in nearly a week, underlining the standstill in negotiations.    

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“The last I spoke with him was when he walked out, threw a temper tantrum and walked out, so we haven’t heard from him since then,” Schumer told reporters after meeting with the Democratic caucus. 

A group of centrist House Democrats on Tuesday rejected a White House invitation to attend talks with Republicans and Trump, seeing it as an effort to divide the party. 

A Democratic congressional aide said the meeting appeared to be pulled together “haphazardly at the last minute,” with invitations to members received from the White House beginning in the late afternoon on Monday and continuing until late at night.

“The congressman is declining the invitation,” said Andrew Scibetta, a spokesman for Rep. Lou CorreaJose (Lou) Luis CorreaRep. Lou Correa tests positive for COVID-19 An attack on America that's divided Congress — and a nation FAA: No more warnings for unruly passengers on flights MORE (D-Calif.). “Congressman Correa welcomes the opportunity to talk with the president about border security, as soon as the government is reopened.”

The White House and Republicans who did attend the meeting criticized the Democrats for skipping it.

“The sheer fact that no Democrats [were] here to even talk with us shows the lack of willingness to compromise,” said Rep. Rodney DavisRodney Lee DavisHouse-passed election bill takes aim at foreign interference Biden to meet with bipartisan lawmakers on infrastructure House passes voting rights and elections reform bill MORE (Ill.), one of the Republicans who went to the White House. 

Democrats feel confident they have leverage on Trump, who has seen his poll numbers steadily erode as the shutdown drags on. 

“Every day he’s losing. The Gallup poll today had him at a near record low of 37 percent popularity. Even some of his base is losing faith,” Schumer said on the Senate floor Tuesday morning. “President Trump, you’re not going to win this fight with the American people. Every day it drags on, you are less popular.” 

A Quinnipiac University poll published Monday showed that 56 percent of respondents blame Trump and Republicans in Congress for the shutdown, while only 36 percent blame Democrats. 

Convinced that Trump is taking the brunt of the political fallout, Democrats feel little incentive to cede any ground in the standoff over the president’s demand for $5.7 billion for a border wall. 

So far, most Republican lawmakers are sticking with Trump, persuading themselves the shutdown isn’t becoming a political disaster for their party. But others acknowledge the standoff is taking a toll on Trump’s political standing and want to see an end to the impasse. 

“Nobody is winning. Mr. President, hear me, nobody is winning. We’re not winning, you’re not winning, Democrats aren’t winning,” said Sen. Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiTrump promises to travel to Alaska to campaign against Murkowski GOP votes in unison against COVID-19 relief bill Senate approves sweeping coronavirus measure in partisan vote MORE (R-Alaska). 

Asked if the shutdown is hurting Trump’s approval rating, Murkowski said “absolutely.”

Senate Majority Whip John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneGOP votes in unison against COVID-19 relief bill Senate holds longest vote in history as Democrats scramble to save relief bill Biden gets involved to help break Senate logjam MORE (R-S.D.) said Trump has largely failed to persuade independent voters that building a border wall is worth a monthlong partial government shutdown. 

“The real battlefield is for those independent voters, and I don’t think he’s probably won them over yet,” Thune said. 

But he added that Trump “certainly among Republican voters, from what I’ve seen, he seems to be moving the needle there.” 

For the second time in two weeks, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellBiden takes victory lap after Senate passes coronavirus relief package GOP votes in unison against COVID-19 relief bill Senate approves sweeping coronavirus measure in partisan vote MORE (R-Ky.) on Tuesday blocked a request by Maryland Sens. Ben CardinBenjamin (Ben) Louis CardinCOVID-19 relief debate stalls in Senate amid Democratic drama Senate GOP will force clerks to read bill to delay COVID-19 relief vote OVERNIGHT ENERGY: House Democrats reintroduce road map to carbon neutrality by 2050 | Kerry presses oil companies to tackle climate change | Biden delays transfer of sacred lands for copper mine MORE (D) and Chris Van HollenChristopher (Chris) Van HollenBiden convenes bipartisan meeting on cancer research Lobbying world Menendez reintroduces corporate diversity bill MORE (D) to take up a House package to fund shuttered departments and agencies. 

McConnell has said he will not allow a vote on a funding measure unless there is a deal between Trump and Democrats. He also said the Senate would not be voting to override a Trump veto on funding legislation. 

There are at least two groups of senators working on proposals that could later serve as the basis of a compromise. 

One group, led by Sen. Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinSunday shows preview: Manchin makes the rounds after pivotal role in coronavirus relief debate Biden takes victory lap after Senate passes coronavirus relief package Schumer insists Democrats unified after chaotic coronavirus debate MORE (D-W.Va.), includes a mix of Republicans and Democrats, including Sens. Christopher CoonsChris Andrew CoonsSenate approves sweeping coronavirus measure in partisan vote The eight Democrats who voted 'no' on minimum wage Justice Democrats call moderates' votes against minimum wage hike 'unconscionable' MORE (D-Del.), Cory GardnerCory GardnerBiden administration reverses Trump changes it says 'undermined' conservation program Gardner to lead new GOP super PAC ahead of midterms OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Court rules against fast-track of Trump EPA's 'secret science' rule | Bureau of Land Management exodus: Agency lost 87 percent of staff in Trump HQ relocation | GM commits to electric light duty fleet by 2035 MORE (R-Colo.), Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamSunday shows preview: Manchin makes the rounds after pivotal role in coronavirus relief debate Georgia DA investigating Trump taps racketeering expert for probe: report GOP votes in unison against COVID-19 relief bill MORE (R-S.C.), Doug Jones (D-Ala.), Rob PortmanRobert (Rob) Jones PortmanSchumer insists Democrats unified after chaotic coronavirus debate GOP votes in unison against COVID-19 relief bill Senate approves sweeping coronavirus measure in partisan vote MORE (R-Ohio), Thom TillisThomas (Thom) Roland TillisMcConnell backs Garland for attorney general GOP senators demand probe into Cuomo's handling of nursing home deaths CNN anchor confronts GOP chairman over senator's vote to convict Trump MORE (N.C.) and Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerGOP votes in unison against COVID-19 relief bill Senate inches toward COVID-19 vote after marathon session Hillicon Valley: YouTube to restore Trump's account | House-passed election bill takes aim at foreign interference | Senators introduce legislation to create international tech partnerships MORE (D-Va.).

A separate group, made up entirely of Republican moderates, is also meeting to discuss options, according to Murkowski. 

“Let’s just agree we’ve got to stop it,” she said. 

“I’ve got to do something,” she added. “I just can’t sit and wait and hope that one day the president will wake up someday and say, ‘Oops, I changed my mind on that.’ That’s not going to happen.”

She said a broader immigration deal is “clearly in the mix,” as is a broader agreement on federal spending levels. 

Some Republicans are floating the idea of combining negotiations over the border wall with talks over strict spending caps. Those new spending ceilings are set to be triggered in 2020. They argue Democrats might be willing to compromise if funding levels for social-service programs are also at stake. 

“It’s worth positive discussions. It might be a good idea,” Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard ShelbyRichard Craig ShelbyCBC 'unequivocally' endorses Shalanda Young for White House budget chief Black Caucus members lobby Biden to tap Shalanda Young for OMB head On The Money: Senate panels postpone Tanden meetings in negative sign | Biden signs supply chain order after 'positive' meeting with lawmakers MORE (R-Ala.) said. “I think we’ll have to discuss all of it, that included.” 

While most Republican lawmakers are sticking with Trump for now, nerves are fraying.

Sen. Johnny IsaksonJohnny IsaksonLoeffler leaves door open to 2022 rematch against Warnock Perdue on potential 2022 run: GOP must regain the Senate Bottom line MORE (R-Ga.), usually one of the most gentlemanly members of the Senate, gave an angry speech on the floor Tuesday, venting his frustration with the lack of progress. 

“The president is not moving. The Democrats aren’t moving. The majority leader is not moving. And we’re not doing much. And that doesn’t solve anything,” he fumed. 

“The fact of the matter is we’re not doing a damned thing while the American people are suffering,” he said. 

Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson airport, one of the nation’s busiest, has been hit especially hard by the expiration of government funding for the Transportation Security Administration. Travelers there are waiting up to 88 minutes to make it through security screening lines — and up to 55 minutes in TSA PreCheck lines. 

“We’ve got a Super Bowl coming to Atlanta, Ga., in about three weeks, the biggest tourism event in the world this year. What if the largest airport in the world goes on strike?” Isakson said. 

A Senate Republican aide predicted that more Republican moderates would defect from Trump’s side. 

“The polling is horrible,” the aide said, warning that the political environment could turn drastically worse for Republicans if an accident or worse happens at an airport because of low staffing levels. 

Jordan Fabian, Jordain Carney and Scott Wong contributed.